The United Soccer League announced the San Diego Loyal will play its final season in the USL Championship in 2023. With an ownership group led by Andrew Vassiliadis and Landon Donovan, the San Diego Loyal built a strong base in the area. The side only played its first game in the USL Championship in 2020.

USL accredited the departure of the San Diego Loyal to the lack of a viable future stadium. The club plays its games at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego. The 6,000-seat stadium averaged 4,519 fans per game last season, which ranked No. 15 out of the 27 USL Championship clubs. However, Vassiliadis and Donovan could not secure a future stadium.

“Having a modern, commercially viable stadium solution is vital to our clubs’ long-term success and is a pillar of the USL’s growth strategy,” said USL Deputy CEO Justin Papadakis. “Despite collectively pursuing multiple potential options with SD Loyal’s leadership in the San Diego area, an appropriate stadium solution has not materialized.”

Arrival of MLS club impacting USL in San Diego

However, the arrival of a new MLS team is truly damaging to USL’s status in San Diego. That team, which will have far more funding as an MLS team, would compete directly with the San Diego Loyal. Moreover, while the San Diego Loyal struggled to find a home, the San Diego MLS team is using Snapdragon Stadium as its venue. Snapdragon Stadium holds about 30,000 more fans than Torero Stadium.

While the San Diego MLS club will not start play until the 2025 campaign, San Diego Loyal is calling it quits at the end of the 2023 campaign. The USL club has four home games remaining at Torero Stadium. Vassiliadis encouraged fans to come out and celebrate the club for the remainder of its final season. The Loyal is currently in a playoff position, having qualified for the playoffs in both previous campaigns.

PHOTO: IMAGO / piemags